We’ve rounded up the Fringe Theatre shows on in London during the month of January. We’ve placed them in order of when they open, so have a little browse, find some inspiration – and maybe even book a ticket!
ONE MAN POE: A TRIPLE BILL
Kings Head Theatre; 27th December – 7th January
Edgar Allan Poe is renowned as The Godfather of Gothic Horror. One actor brings Poe’s words to life, live on stage, performing back-to-back three of the finest examples of gothic literature: The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Raven.
THE ART OF ILLUSION
Hampstead Theatre; On Until 28th January
Alexis Michalik’s The Art of Illusion won three Molière Awards when it premiered in 2014, Hampstead Theatre are currently hosting the UK premiere of this hit French play. Playwright Waleed Akhtar (The P Word) has provided an English translation of the script, of this play which concerns two strangers who meet in unusual circumstances in a Parisian cafe in 1984 and set out to explore an illusory world concealed beneath the city’s streets.
THE GHOSTING OF RABBIE BURNS
Kings Head Theatre; 3rd – 14th January
Gillian Duffy’s critically acclaimed comedy drama comes to London. An intimate date with the writer of Auld Lang Syne, which covers everything from love, dating, breakups — & most importantly, ghosting! What better way to start the New Year? Featuring the great songs and poems of Robert Burns, such as My Love is Like a Red Red Rose, Ae Fond Kiss, Charlie is my Darlin & of course… Auld Lang Syne, this hilarious comedy proves that love & relationships haven’t changed that much in 200 years after all.
DOTS AND DASHES: A BLETCHLEY PARK MUSICAL
The Space; 3rd – 14th January
Centring around six women working at Bletchley Park during World War Two. A story of love, loss, secrets and the sacrifices these women made to save millions of lives and silently fight a war behind closed doors. A musical ode to the unsung heroes of World War Two, Dots and Dashes is an empowerment of women from then to now.
Finborough Theatre; 3rd – 28th January
Salt-Water Moon is a Canadian classic. First staged by Tarragon Theatre, Toronto, in 1984, it has received hundreds of productions around North America and the world since its première. Salt-Water Moon now receives its UK première at the multi-award winning Finborough Theatre, known for producing more Canadian plays than any other theatre in Europe. Young Jacob Mercer has returned home to the tiny and remote Newfoundland fishing village, desperate to win back his former sweetheart, Mary Snow. But Mary has become engaged to wealthy Jerome McKenzie and is still hurt and bewildered by Jacob’s abrupt departure for Toronto a year earlier. Even to speak to Jacob will put Mary’s wedding plans in jeopardy. Stubborn and independent, she is determined never to forgive Jacob…
LE GATEAU CHOCOLAT & JONNY WOO: A NIGHT AT THE MUSICALS – 90 YEARS OF DRAG!
Soho Theatre; 4th – 21st January
‘The French and Saunders of Drag’ Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo are back at Soho Theatre with a brand new show! To celebrate Jonny’s 50th and Gateau’s 40th birthdays, they’re going to perform every single musical hit from the past 90 years (…well, the ones they grew up loving anyway), with all the signature shenanigans and hilarious assholery you know and love. From Cats, to Sound of Music, Cabaret to Little Mermaid – no show is safe!
Turbine Theatre; 5th – 22nd January
‘I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you.’ Sam and his fiancé Noel have been together for years. They have a house, a cat and their whole lives ahead of them. But when a sudden and permanent distance crashes into their relationship, it falls upon Sam to discover where their story goes from here. Harlow Playhouse present this new work by Tom Ratcliffe. Wreckage is a touching story about continuing bonds and love that only evolves, and never dies. Read Amy’s review here!
ON THE ROPES
Park Theatre; 6th January – 4th February
In 2005, having lived in North London for over 40 years, Vernon found himself trapped in Jamaica, and in a bare-knuckle fight for his right to citizenship with the British Home Office. Pulsating with the rhythmic energies of blues, reggae and boxing, On the Ropes is an uplifting musical drama telling the extraordinary story of Vernon Vanriel who arrived in Britain aged 6 with his family as part of the Windrush Generation, and rose to prominence as one of the most charismatic and influential Black British boxers of the 70s and 80s.
Seven Dials Playhouse; 9th – 28th January
A savagely amusing comment on the realities of a career in Hollywood, Irrelevant interrogates how great artists can slip through the cracks and bright futures can be suddenly dimmed. The play centres on Millie, a once-promising young actress, who finds herself chewed up and spat out by the cruel churn of La La Land. Now one of LA’s top agents, Millie is the champion she never had. But, living vicariously through the stars she represents has a viciously entertaining way of taking its toll.
Kings Head Theatre; 9th, 15th and 16th January
This award-winning new writing follows the story of Ava & Josh: two siblings caught in the purgatory of a fictional but analogous town set to be abandoned.
In 2014, residents of Fairbourne, Wales, were sat watching their local evening news when they found out that they were to be Britain’s first climate refugees, with their town set to be decommissioned and depopulated by 2054. Housing prices dropped over night, insurance disappeared & life savings were lost in the chaos.
Southwark Playhouse Borough; 10th – 28th January
A sell-out one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe before a successful UK tour, and listed as a must-see by The Guardian & The Telegraph, Fake News is the spell-binding story of our time from journalist turned actor & playwright Osman Baig. A budding journalist lands a dream internship at the country’s biggest online news organization. That’s where he stumbles on an earth-shattering story and decides to click publish. There’s just one problem: it’s completely untrue.
IPHIGENIA; OR, THE SACRIFICES OF A YOUNG WOMAN IN NINE MOVEMENTS
Hope Theatre; 10th – 28th January
Iphigenia tells the tragic tale of the forces behind a young girl’s demise and the mother who feels she must allow it to happen. Alongside documentary interviews with parents and children, we witness a series of private moments set in the confines of Iphigenia’s childhood bedroom as she reconciles her own desires against the role she is asked to play. We catch her in the most intimate moments — the moments in-between the acts — those not normally seen in our epic dramas. As her life is shaped by the decisions of others seemingly outside her control, Iphigenia is pushed towards the ultimate sacrifice.
HOMOBESITY: HOW MY FAT GAY BODY MADE ME
The Lion & Unicorn; 10th – 14th January
In this one-man show, which premiered at Brighton Fringe 2022, Connor narrates a series of raw, but also humorous, episodes in his life, showing how his body and the world’s reaction to it shaped him as a person. It’s a show that’s a lot about being fat and a lot about being gay, but it’s a show that should resonate for anyone who has ever felt that they don’t fit in in the world where they’re living.
Kings Head Theatre; 10th – 14th January
A one-man black comedy about an Irish male nanny who works for rich single mums in West London.
Manny is enjoying a Peter Pan-esque lifestyle of well-paid cash in hand work & settling for meaningless dates with women who harmonise happy birthday with their eyes closed, just to disguise himself from the fact that he’s letting life go by without following any real purpose, or allowing himself to really feel anything substantial or lasting.
Southwark Playhouse Borough; 12th January – 4th February
Lazarus Theatre Company have a contemporary rendition of Hamlet coming to the Southwark Playhouse this month. Told through the eyes and experience of the young characters (yes, the adults are gone) Shakespeare’s monumental play comes to the stage in this ravishing, modern, physical and fast paced ensemble production. Denmark will never be the same again.
Soho Theatre; 16th – 21st January
Edinburgh Comedy Award nominees Crybabies return with their smash hit sci-fi narrative sketch adventure about finding home, forbidden love, monsters, mystery and massive regret. Bagbeard is E.T meets The Wicker Man meets Harry meets Sally in this boundlessly absurd and heart-warming story about finding your place in the universe. Expect spooky woods, pagan festivals, musical numbers, alien planets, secret labs, villainous plots, and love in the strangest of places. After snagging a Best Newcomer nomination for Danger Brigade in 2019, nothing could stop them (shy of a global pandemic and an unexploded World War 2 bomb on Dean Street which got in the way of their Soho Theatre run). Since their live plans were put on hold, the trio have between them, acted alongside Tim Key and Dianne Morgan in Afterlife, gained over 3 million likes on TikTok and joined the main cast of Joe Cornish’s upcoming Netflix series Lockwood & Co.s. Now they’re back on stage with their trademark absurdity, ready to give Soho audiences an hour of wonderful, oddly heartfelt nonsense.
DARE YOU SAY PLEASE
Kings Head Theatre; 16th January – 4th February
A dark comedy drama about a heavily populated society which has been pushed to take extreme measures. We watch as two strangers, straight- talking Oscar & careful Maria, get to know each other before they are forced to make a decision – which one of them will live beyond this room? How will they decide? And are they connected more than they realise? The play explores the different human reactions to high pressure situations and our obsession with morality, mortality and normality.
ZACH ZUCKER: SPECTACULAR INDUSTRY SHOWCASE
Soho Theatre; 17th – 21st January
Entering his eleventh year in the biz at the broken-in age of 16, Zach Zucker is one of Hollywood’s last greatest open secrets. A natural-born, triple threat (singer, dancer, Jew) in the best shape of his life (square), Zach is letting it all hang out (benis) and he’s not afraid to give everybody a taste. He’ll do anything he can to make you laugh and he’s coming for everyone: upper class, middle class, front of house – he’ll sleep with all of them if that’s what it takes. So strap in, hold on and get ready to get your f*ckin nuts blown off because this show is ~freaking epic~
WE DIDN’T COME TO HELL FOR THE CROISSANTS
Riverside Studios; 17th January – 4th February
The cult hit We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants has been performed hundreds of times around the world. In it seven stories by seven renowned South African writers are consummately told and illustrated, running the gamut from orgiastic sex to death to cats with trust funds and everything in between. Everyone who wrote a story for We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants has gone on to win a Pulitzer. Or gone to jail. Bring your kids! LOL! Don’t. This show is strictly for adults.
Union Theatre; 17th – 22nd January
Roast Me is a dystopian take on an alternate lockdown caused by social media. The play follows the story of four young adults through two separate timelines five years apart, in the first timeline they are unknowingly causing the collapse of society, whilst in the other they are trying to save it. The play focuses on the potential fallout of the popular trend on Reddit called Roast Me and what could happen if this trend gets out of hand. Current issues are constantly being tackled throughout the play, be it a small passing reference to America’s gun control issues or entire scenes dedicated to the importance of mental health and the effect it can have on people of all ages.
AND THEN THE RODEO BURNED DOWN
Kings Head Theatre; 17th January – 11th February
Originally performed for a single week at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the show was extended after picking up Rave Reviews & a coveted Edinburgh Fringe First Award which resulted in a sold-out run. Scored, like any modern-day Western, by Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash & Miley Cyrus, And Then the Rodeo Burned Down is a physical comedy & clowning spectacular that will leave you questioning the true events of this rodeo, just like the characters trapped inside of it.
THE BOYS ARE KISSING
Theatre 503; 17th January – 4th February
When two 9-year-old boys kiss in the school playground of a small town, two sets of parents are told to ‘do something about it’ – but neither of them are entirely sure what. Amira is sending inclusive children’s books to the school library, whilst her wife Chloe dreams of a kitchen island. Sarah is trying her best not to upset the Mum WhatsApp group, and her husband Matt just really wants to do the right thing – as soon as he can work out what that is. Luckily, here to guide our helpless humans are two cherubic winged guardians of the gays, summonsed to attend to a disturbance in the queer atmos and intervene only where strictly necessary… but where’s the fun in being an ethereal being if you can’t drop in and cause a scene wearing latex?
Barons Court Theatre; 17th – 28th January
Morveren (Cornish, noun): sea maiden, mermaid. Ambitious banker Keren is determined to make her mark. In a male-dominated industry, she’s learned that the way to get ahead is to speak loudly, strut your stuff, and sell sell sell. But the siren’s song is calling her name, drawing her back to her roots. Drawing on Cornish mythology, Morveren is centred around a hidden coastal village where women make the rules and no one has to shout to be heard. Using theatrical magic and a digital choir to imagine an alternative way of living, Morveren is a celebration of community and a coming of age for three generations of women.
CHARLIE & STAN
Wilton’s Music Hall; 18th January – 4th February
In 1910, the then unknown Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel set sail from Southampton to New York as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall troupe. They shared a cabin, they shared comedy routines but by the end of the journey they had drifted apart… they would both go on to become two of the biggest stars of the age. Inspired by real life events, and accompanied by a live piano score, Told by an Idiot’s smash hit production is a hilarious and moving homage to Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, two men who changed the world of comedy forever.
THE ELEPHANT SONG
Park Theatre; 18th January – 11th February
Fraught with mind-games and verbal tugs-of-war, the UK premiere of this Canadian play sets a hospital director against a patient to find a missing psychiatrist. Against the advice of his colleagues, Dr Greenberg is determined to question Michael and ends up in a turbulent power struggle, trying to find the truth in Michael’s stories of elephants and opera, his distant mother, his forced stay, and his sexuality. As Michael tries to barter the truth for his freedom, he leads the director along with hints of relationships with his psychiatrist and the head nurse, with this game of cat-and-mouse leading to devastating consequences.
Hen and Chickens Theatre; 19th, 20th and 21st January
My Dead is a new one woman play by Carolyn Hartvigsen. A woman uncovers her family history to discover her deceased grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents, and even great-great-great grandparents have combined their efforts to pass down shared experiences and alter the course of her life… leading her to ask: “My Dead. Do I really know them?”
TWO BILLION BEATS
Orange Tree Theatre; 20th January – 4th February
Bouncing with wit, Sonali Bhattacharyya’s upbeat play is a coming-of-age story about the unfairness of growing up in a world where you don’t make the rules. Seventeen-year-old Asha is an empathetic rebel, inspired by historical revolutionaries and iconoclasts Sylvia Pankhurst and B R Ambedkar. She’s unafraid of pointing out the hypocrisy around her but less sure how to actually dismantle it. Meanwhile, her younger sister, Bettina, wide-eyed and naïve, is just trying to get through the school day without getting her pocket money nicked. When Bettina turns to her for help, Asha starts to ask what standing up for her political beliefs really looks like.
THE BEST PINTS
Hope Theatre; 22nd, 23rd, 29th & 30th January
In FishMail Productions’ comedy play The Best Pints, directed by Kay Dent and written by Jack Gallagher, Gerry poses that question to his two best friends Steve and David during their regular Friday night drinking session in their local pub.
What follows is the three best mates telling one another stories of parenthood, love, loss, addiction and the Yakuza (yes, that Yakuza).
Playground Theatre; 25th January – 4th February
Peter Tate, multi-award winner, Founder, and Artistic Director of The Playground Theatre, brilliantly incarnates Picasso’s presence in an explosive, deeply passionate voyage of self-revelation leaving the audience as his jury. Terry d’Alfonso’s critically acclaimed play is co-adapted for solo performance and directed by Guy Masterson, Olivier Award winner for “Morecambe” and director of the Olivier nominated West End hit, The Shark Is Broken.
Soho Theatre; 25th January – 11th February
Following his acclaimed Bottom, writer and performer Willy Hudson returns to Soho Theatre with a brand-new autobiographical show, facing the battle between religion and homosexuality told through the lens of science fiction. Recovering from a bad breakup, Willy moves back to his parents’ house, but waiting there is the thing that’s been controlling him since birth – his childhood church. Join Willy in his kitsch DIY world as he catapults an autobiographical story into a fantastical spectacle. Expect space battles, monster anthems and an out-of-this-world terrain, all revolving around a real-world battle of the heart. Within an impossible revenge story on an unbreakable institution, is a story about resolving anger, the importance of allies and knowing when to let go.
Plus… The Vault Festival is back this month!
The Vault Festival is back from the 24th January until the 19th of March. With a programme of over 500 shows, there’s something for everyone! With plenty of Special Offers available across VAULT Festival 2023, including Festival and Party Passes, and our popular Membership programme that gives you discounts on tickets and drinks, there’s plenty of ways to make the most of your festival experience.
- A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
- PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATREPeter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
- GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSEDrawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, High Tide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE
- CINDERELLA – REVIEW – LYRIC HAMMERSMITHDrum roll please…(Cue a literal drum rolling across the stage.) The Lyric pantomime is one of traditions with the return of many well-loved jokes and skits. Costumes and sets are all made at the Lyric itself by Good Teeth, with set pieces being reused year on year. This year Cinderella gets the Hammersmith makeover, with … More CINDERELLA – REVIEW – LYRIC HAMMERSMITH
- INTERVIEW – LINUS KARP – DIANA: THE UNTOLD AND UNTRUE STORYAmy catches up with Linus Karp ahead of his performance of Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story, at London’s Clapham Grand. Linus and Joseph of Awkward Productions are also the masterminds behind the new show Gwyneth Goes Skiing. Hello Your Majesty/ Candle Entrepreneur, how are you feeling coming back from a hugely successful fringe and … More INTERVIEW – LINUS KARP – DIANA: THE UNTOLD AND UNTRUE STORY